Bourne Spooner selected the perfect spot to build the rope factory. But, at the time, the surrounding area was undeveloped. Housing was almost nonexistent, and transportation was not available from downtown Plymouth. Bourne filled this need by building housing for employees.
Early in 1825, Spooner signed a contract with Ebenezer Lobdell to build a six-family house for $2400. Each unit was to have a living room, kitchen, pantry, two bedrooms, two fireplaces, a cellar to run under the whole building, and each family to have a garden with room for a hen house. Employees could rent a two-bedroom apartment for $40 a year. These homes exist today and are located just outside the Cordage Commerce Center across from North Spooner Street.
The Company built tenements of the normal mill-village type for its workers throughput the early and mid-1800s. In 1899, it started an ambition housing program of very different and superior quality. They built 21 two-family homes in the "colonial" style. Each family unit consisted of five to seven rooms and a cellar. It also had a modern bathroom, a front lawn with a place for a flower garden, and a back yard big enough to grow vegetables and raise poultry.
Electric lighting and central heating were installed a few years later. The company also laid sidewalks and a sewage system at its own expense, since the town would not. The rents were moderate and more importantly, the appearance, finish and accommodations of the houses were sought after by the younger business professionals. Their salaries were considerably larger than factory operatives, so living in these homes equated to a certain standing in the community.
Additionally, lots were procured by the company and sold at cost to employees who preferred to build their own homes. Loans for these purchases were offered by the company at a very low interest rate. At one time, the company owned as many as 1,825 housing units.
Plymouth Cordage continued to build employee housing throughout the early 1900s. By 1924, the company owned 125 homes housing 351 tenants. Rent ranged from $1.20 - $4.50 per week.